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It’s a bit modern. It’s a little bit farm. But most of all, it’s authentic.
That’s how restaurateur John Tunney III describes his new venture The Farm Italy, a new Italian restaurant that recently opened in Huntington Village.
“We wanted to start it with this kind of homey feeling,” Tunney said. “It’s a comfortable environment and really authentic.”
By authentic he means everything from the new floorboards to the ingredients in their dishes were and are made from scratch.
Tunney — the owner of other Huntington staples The Shed and Besito — launched his new brand at 12 Gerard St., in the former Mac’s Steakhouse and Restaurant location.
Compared to its predecessor, The Farm Italy is brighter and more open. Modern artwork hangs on the walls. Then there’s the brand-new, handmade chairs.
Tunney said that the previous space made diners feel separated from the bar. He decided to open the walls in the dining room so patrons could be “part of the action,” but still feel like they’re in an intimate setting.
With several locations of The Shed (Huntington and Sayville) plus Besito (Huntington, West Islip and Roslyn), Tunney said that when this space became available during the pandemic, he knew it was the perfect location.
Originally, he said that The Farm Italy was set to become a second Ballo — his Italian restaurant located at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
“I decided that I didn’t want to have to match menus from this property to that one and this was becoming its unique standalone gem,” he said. “In that process, the menu morphed a little bit and it became its own entity because it’s such a unique physical structure.”
The villa-style building features a full-size bar, a large dining room and an upstairs event space that is still under construction. In the heart of the village, several parking lots are near The Farm Italy, but they have valet for easier access. Tunney also expressed excitement for the outdoor patio for the warmer months.
What’s on the menu?
The Farm Italy is not a typical Long Island Italian spot. They have ravioli and a spaghetti dish, but only three items on the menu actually feature red sauce.
Led by executive chef Roberto Baez, he and Tunney have been working on this menu for nearly two years.
“We wanted to accommodate the style of Italian that we have, but in a more modern and classic way,” Tunney said. “It’s the same as the building; a little classic and a little modern.”
For example, at another Italian restaurant a customer would order chicken parmesan, but at The Farm Italy, their take is the “parmesan chicken” created with homemade focaccia breadcrumbs, mozzarella, pomodoro sauce and basil.
“We make the best focaccia bread just to break it down to make the breadcrumbs,” Tunney said.
Baez said the menu is a “cleaner” version of what someone might see in a standard Italian steakhouse. A complete scratch kitchen, everything is created onsite using fresh ingredients. And because of that, their menu is almost entirely gluten free.
“There’s a lot of simplicity in the recipes that we use,” Baez said. “The more simplistic with cooking and using less ingredients, we don’t overdo it and it’s clean.”
Tunney added that Italian food for him means three things.
“You buy the best possible ingredients, you handle with the least number of times by the best pair of hands possible,” he said. “And then you get real Italian food.”
On the menu are those classics with a Farm Italy twist — the burrata with cherry bombs, crostini and 12-year balsamic drizzle, cacio e pepe made with cracked pepper and pecorino, and a penne dish made with brown rice, roasted squash, pistachio and chili honey.
There are also a list of seafood dishes and meats, like the veal Milanese (made with those homemade breadcrumbs), a branzino filet, pork chops, and prawns.
“It’s not completely straightforward,” Baez said. “We always put our little signature on certain things.”
Tunney and Baez explained how hard it is to choose a favorite when asked what their top pick on the menu is.
“When you’re creating the menu and you’re thinking about every dish, all the details of that dish, every single one of them gets the same amount of care,” Tunney said. “So, when someone asks what’s your favorite dish, well, we can’t pick favorite. They’re all alike … if they weren’t a favorite, they wouldn’t be on the menu.”
The Farm Italy is open for business and currently accepting reservations on its website.
“You’re not going to want to go somewhere else,” Baez said.
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